Lexus IS 250

27 Dec, 2012 10:30am Tom Phillips

We get behind the wheel of a prototype of the all-new Lexus IS, ahead of its launch next year


The all-new Lexus IS will offer a genuine alternative to rivals like the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class. But while some people might have bought the previous IS just to be different, the new car offers significant quality and driving experience improvements over the old one. Add a high spec and top-notch dealers, and it looks like a serious challenger.

Lexus IS sales are currently split around 50:50 between fleet and retail customers. And while the new hybrid IS 300h will be aimed at the former market, private buyers are still expected to opt for the IS 250, powered by the 2.5-litre petrol engine from the current car.

Our test car was disguised and the model won’t be unveiled until next month’s Detroit Motor Show, but its looks will be inspired by the LF-CC concept. The new IS uses the same platform as the latest GS, giving a longer wheelbase and wider track than the current car.

Inside, there’s more space, particularly in the rear, while the front seats are now mounted lower, meaning a sportier driving position and extra headroom.

A higher centre console will also feature, along with improved trim materials – judging from the parts of the interior left exposed on our test car. The gearshifter has a higher-quality feel, too.

On the move, the V6 makes the same sonorous noise as before, although it’s not quite as smooth as Jaguar’s latest 3.0-litre V6 for the XF and XJ. Performance is sharp, however: the petrol engine and auto box combination is more responsive than the hybrid’s drivetrain.

Steering and braking are more precise, too, and you can tailor the driving experience with Drive Mode Select, which offers Eco, Normal or Sport S settings.

Key specs

  • Price: £30,500 (est)
  • Engine: 2.5-litre V6, 205bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph/Top speed: 8.5 secs/140mph
  • Economy/CO2: 35mpg/190g/km (est)
  • Equipment: Sports suspension, 18-inch wheels, Drive Mode Select
  • On sale: June